The Loyalties is a novel that centers around the lives of two 12-year-old French schoolmates, Théo and Mathis, and explores the challenges and quandaries of adults dealing with at-risk youth. We didn’t want to depict the children themselves as we were wary of the cover looking exploitative, but I did want to show something innocent and beautiful becoming ruined just as these young boys’ lives are being ruined of their potential. At the same time it needed to look suspenseful because a big question in the novel is whether they can be rescued in time before terrible damage is done. I found the image of the rusted nails first and thought this represented the boys’ home environments—but to show their innocence, I needed to combine it with a contrasting object and I imagined the children as flowers trying to grow through an environment of decay. Interweaving the two images gave the cover the balance it needed to convey the danger and sadness that surrounds these boys’ lives.
—Lucy Kim, Art Director